A native of Long Island, New York, Rajeev Goyal is the co-founder and conservation director of Koshi Tappu Kanchenjunga Biodiversity Education Livelihood Terra-Studio (KTK-BELT). Founded in 2015, KTK-BELT aims to mitigate ecosystem fragmentation in the eastern Himalayas by designing a contiguous educational land trust stretching from Koshi Tappu (67 m), Nepal’s largest aquatic bird sanctuary, to Mt. Kanchenjunga, the 3rd tallest peak in the world.

Named the Vertical University, the trust will conserve endangered habitats and species across an 8,000 meter vertical gradient, while fostering ecologically sensitive livelihoods for rural farmers. As a Peace Corps volunteer, Goyal helped build a two-stage water pumping system for his village in Nepal, for which he received the Franklin H. Williams Award for Public Service.

From 2008 to 2011 he was the executive director of a grassroots legislative campaign that successfully increased the Peace Corps budget by USD $60 million – the largest increase since 1961 – facilitating the addition of five new country programs and 1,000 volunteer positions globally. His efforts were detailed in a 10-page article in New Yorker Magazine by Peter Hessler.

A graduate of Brown University, NYU School of Law, and Cornell University School of Agriculture, Goyal’sfirst book, The Springs of Namje: A Ten-Year Journey from the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress (Beacon Press, 2012) received the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award.